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My Personal Bottom 10 Family Guy Episodes
It was...hard to narrow this one down, because the current run has so many bad ones. I rarely get angry at TV, movies, books, video games, etc. Even the bad stuff has something to enjoy, I'm a big fan of So Bad It's Good. But some things go beyond fun and into seriously uncomfortable territory, and these 10 episodes are prime examples. There's going to be a lot of ranting ahead.
I've already explained my general feelings about the show in my Top 10 list, so I'll spare you and just jump right into the cringe.
10) The King is Dead.
I'm gonna say this first, and get it out of the way: The entertainment media you consume has no bearing on your intelligence. A person with a 150 IQ and a Yale degree can watch Beavis and Butt-Head or Teen Titans Go!, while someone with a C average and a part-time job at Arby's can enjoy Shakespeare plays or classical music. Intelligence and taste in entertainment do not necessarily go hand in hand.
Now that that's been said, this episode pissed me off even before the current seasons aired. Both Lois and Peter are total straw men: Peter's the self-absorbed artist who thinks the original The King and I is too boring and wants to change it to suit his vision, and he's super whiny about it when Lois tells him it's not his job to make changes. Lois herself is the stuck-up elitist who makes a big speech yelling at everyone who enjoys Peter's crappy vision and blaming THEM for the downfall of society because they're too stupid to appreciate real art and that people should be punished for creating anything silly or cheesy or stupid.
As an intelligent, well-read college graduate who enjoys cheesy trashy crap because it's fun, I found Lois's argument insulting. Yes, it's "just a cartoon", but her speech mirrors the kind of elitist blather I've heard leveled at people in real life.
So yeah. This is on the list for a personal pet peeve reason and I fully admit it. The only reason it's so low is because it can and will get worse.
9) Brian Griffin's House of Payne.
The A-plot was cringe-worthy enough because despite my previous rant, I do understand the other side of the coin. Someone creates a work of art meant to be serious and heartfelt, but everyone wants it to be stupid and meme-y and wacky because "it's what's popular". Brian, who by this point has become a pretentious jerk, actually comes off as fairly sympathetic because of this. (And makes me wonder if it's a metaphor for how Seth feels about his show going from a silly but charming dysfunctional comedy to pure shock value.)
But the episode earns its place here because of the subplot. Stewie, who's survived a multitude of dangers no real life baby ever could, suffers a graphic and gruesome injury I won't describe here while Meg and Chris try to cover it up. At least Meg eventually wants to tell Lois or take Stewie to the hospital, but Peter comes up with a plan so disgusting that someone should've called child protective services on him. I won't go into detail, just...it was really, really unpleasant and hard to watch even the first time.
8) Quagmire's Dad.
This episode really pissed off the trans community, and for good reason. Quagmire's anger was at least explained by his dad's transitioning being a big change for him (not that it made his remarks okay), but the Griffins were such bigots about it for no good reason. Lois telling Meg to throw Ida's homemade crumble "in the outside garbage" really helps drive the point home that current Lois is a horrible person. (And her "you may go in the yard" comment during the Thanksgiving episode. What a bigot.)
Brian's subplot was pretty annoying, too. Him being self-important, the family being snide, and then of course we have to make him look as intolerant as possible by having him vomit for one minute straight when he learns the woman he slept with used to be a man! And then we milk the Brian-Quagmire feud by making Quagmire nearly KILL Brian. At this point both characters can go step on a Lego.
7) Brian's a Bad Father.
Both of this episode's plots were horrendous. Brian being a lousy dad to his kid, whom he's seeing for the first time in how many years? Then whining when he's called on his crap. Meanwhile, Peter shoots Quagmire who gets rightfully pissed, they start an escalating war as they both try to get Joe to take their side, Joe takes Quagmire's side and Peter whines. Finally, Quagmire shoots him in the head and that makes them all friends again. Also, the suicide joke was NOT FUNNY. It's not even worth discussing in more detail. Brian's a selfish jerk, Peter's a thoughtless creep and the jokes are tactless and idiotic. The only saving grace was Stewie's alter ego Zack Sawyer.
6) Fresh Heir.
I'm not just listing this one because Mr. Enter bashed it, I actually found the episode disturbing on my own. The first half could've been heartwarming, Chris getting a little spotlight to bond with his grandpa. But even the first half couldn't stay away from the disturbing incest jokes.
In the early seasons, Chris sometimes made jokes about his mom being hot. They were one-off gags and they were meant to be stupid-funny. But this episode took one-off gags and cranked them up to the point of GROSS. I won't describe anything specific aside from the fact that the entire second half is Peter trying to marry his own son, and it's played seriously. The only reason this isn't higher on the list is that in the end the show not only calls it out as disturbing, but people actually called the police about Peter's plans. Not that it excuses this plot being made in the first place, but at least it's not being treated as acceptable.
5) And I'm Joyce Kinney.
If they'd made this episode in an earlier season, I would've disliked it for different reasons. The whole angle of the episode is that Lois is the victim of a scandal involving a porn flick she made years ago, and in an earlier season I'd have hated it because bullying and malicious slander are sore points with me.
The episode that really happened, however? See, Lois was a brat and played a horrible prank on Joyce when they were in high school, so Joyce gets revenge by revealing Lois's secret past life as a porn star on the news. And we're supposed to feel sorry for Lois. She whines, she cries, she's oh so humiliated and hurt and it takes the sage comforting wisdom of Brian to help her face her demons.
The thing is...Lois Griffin is a horrible person. She used to be fairly likeable, but then she turned into a catty, selfish, whiny, stuck-up jerk but we're still supposed to side with her because Peter is worse. See, it's possible to feel sympathy for a character who's a terrible person. I love that trope and a lot of my favorite characters are the kind you feel for but also want to throttle. But the writers are going about it all wrong with Lois in this episode. She's sitting there crying and whining and all I can do is remember all the cruel things she's done to Meg and Chris and countless others. Lois, you're as bad as Peter, and the writers need to accept it instead of pretending you have the moral high ground.
The only funny parts were the "did a porn" pedantry (hey, at least it broke up the manufactured angst for a bit) and Stewie's stinger at the end of the episode.
This episode was lackluster overall aside from the song (hey, I said it in my Top 10 list that Family Guy always did know how to write a good musical number), but the thing that puts it so high is the casual animal cruelty. As a cat owner and a cat lover, it made me sick to know that scene existed and it actually made me feel REALLY sorry for Quagmire. His friends were jerks to him because he dared to care about a cat instead of pandering to their stupidity all the time, so they attempt a prank that...I'm not going to give it away, not because of spoilers but because like I said, extreme casual animal cruelty. Just no. I'll buy an MP3 of the Bag of Weed song and forget the rest of the episode exists.
3) Quagmire's Mom.
This one is just despicable. Sure, let's have Quagmire sleep with an underage girl, blame his behavior on his mom being "easy", then have her sleep with the judge to get him out of a prison term! Way to shame a woman for being sexually active by implying that her enjoying sex and not being ready to settle down with just one guy "really messed up her kid". It'd be one thing if Quagmire merely took after his mom in both of them having big sexual appetites, but I'm betting his mother never raped any teenagers. And we're supposed to see Quagmire as a victim even though he did such a reprehensible thing and blamed it on his mother. Not that his mother ended up being any better, she should have just let Quagmire take his medicine and go to jail because he's a criminal. Classy, show, real classy.
2) Seahorse Seashell Party.
Mr. Enter ripped this episode apart better than I could have, but as someone who's been bullied and punished for standing up for myself? I want this episode to disappear and never come back. No, really. They already proved Meg could stand up for herself in "Dial Meg for Murder", and the end of that episode had her make up with her family in a way that didn't feel so insulting. This one was all about pushing her and beating her until she snapped, then forcing her to feel guilty for snapping. If I'd been on the writing team, I'd have "accidentally" spilled ink all over the ending and instead had Brian take Meg's place as the family punching bag. Or Meg realize she can't keep living like this and MOVE OUT.
1) Stewie Is Enciente
This one earns the number-one spot because it goes there. You don't think the show can get any grosser or less funny, BUT IT GOES THERE. An entire plot centered around a male infant impregnating himself with his dog's spawn, graphically giving birth to said spawn and 10 minutes of malformed mutants being generally gross. The subplot isn't even funny enough to justify suffering through the rest, it's just Peter and his friends trying and failing to make a viral video.
Mpreg is one of my biggest squicks overall, but I'm willing to say "your thing is not my thing and that's okay". Some people liked "Junior" or other such movies or books and that's totally fine. But this? This wasn't just mpreg played for laughs or kink, this was an INFANT getting pregnant with puppies played totally serious.